For six months this year, the road construction project at Sixth Avenue and 19th Street in Golden caused some headaches for some commuters.
But to Charlie McConnell, a computer science student at the Colorado School of Mines, commuting through …
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But to Charlie McConnell, a computer science student at the Colorado School of Mines, commuting through the construction project since it began was only a “mild inconvenience,” he said.
And “going forward, nobody is going to think this was a horrible decision,” McConnell added, “because it's great now.”
Golden hosted a grand opening celebration of the improved U.S. 6 and 19th Street interchange — a construction project called Linking Lookout — on Oct. 1.
“We are thrilled with the project,” said Dan Hartman, the city's public works director. “I think people will quickly see how much time is saved by not having a traffic signal, and walking across U.S. 6 is actually a very pleasant experience. It's safer for everyone.”
The completed project is a user-friendly path that links downtown Golden and the communities at the base of Lookout Mountain. It provides a safer way for cyclists, pedestrians and cars to cross over U.S. 6 to 19th Street without hindering the flow of traffic.
“It demonstrates that major highways do not have to degrade a community's livability,” Hartman said. “In fact, it can actually enhance it.”
There is no longer a barrier for residents from their home to the city, Hartman added, or from Colorado School of Mines housing to campus.
“In addition, we have created a beautiful park that will serve the community for many years,” Hartman said.
Cyclists are happy to have the project finish up. The Golden Gran Fondo, an annual road race that takes place in Golden and includes a Lookout Mountain climb in the route, was the first event permitted to use the bridge that goes over Sixth Avenue at the base of Lookout Mountain on Aug. 27.
And the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb — another popular local cycling race — hasn't taken place since 2016 because of the road construction project.
“We are so excited to have the construction finished, and are already starting plans to have the race again in 2018,” said Michael Jones, race director for the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb.
Colorado School of Mines has a special connection to the project, other than making it safer for students to get to the campus, Hartman added. Seven graduates were involved with the project in some capacity, he said, and they took special pride in it.
That's “a testament to the quality of the university,” Hartman said.
Current students who commute on foot from School of Mines housing located on the other side of Sixth Avenue to the campus are especially happy with the end result.
Once it's finished, it will be a lot safer than it was before, said Tang Lu, a PhD student who has been commuting on foot to campus for two years.
And, he added, “it will be very beautiful.”
The project was completed on time and within budget, Hartman said.
Cost of the project was $25 million. In May 2014, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) provided a grant toward the project, which covered 80 percent of the cost equaling up to $20 million. The Colorado School of Mines contributed land plus $1 million toward the project and the City of Golden payed $4 million.
Construction began in January 2016, and the only thing left is some aesthetic work.
“They should be commended for completing it on time,” said Len Matheo, a resident of the area.
Aside from some problems getting onto 19th Street for a period of time and the noise during the construction, it was a far less intrusive process than expected, Matheo's wife, Lisa DeCaro added.
Overall, Matheo said, “the intersection is better. It's much more preferred than crossing four lanes of traffic on Sixth Avenue.”
Although resident Nancy Benioff is glad the construction project is finished, she said there still are some concerns. For example, the intersection still seems a little confusing, and people are often in a hurry in the morning. That could cause some problems and could be potentially dangerous for anyone using the intersection — cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
Still, "it's looking pretty good,” Benioff said, adding she's optimistic for a smooth transition. “It's just a matter of respecting the rules and respecting each other.”
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